Malta hosts peace negotiation workshops for Cypriots

Malta hosted a gathering of Cypriot civic, business and political figures from across the island this week, to discuss how an inclusive approach can help the Cyprus peace process.

The meetings were intended for senior political and civic leaders from both communities to discuss their role in the peace negotiations.

According to a press release, participants were introduced to examples of other peace processes around the world, including South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Northern Ireland.

A number of case studies have been presented from Northern Ireland, the Balkans and South Africa to the audience with the aim of comparative learning.

On the first day, business leaders met and discussed the necessity for an open, public debate about the benefits of a settlement to the Cyprus question. They highlighted the need to create new opportunities for business cooperation across the Green Line in order to demonstrate the benefits of reconciliation.

On the second day the dialogue included leading peacemakers Jeffrey Donaldson, Danny Morrison (Northern Ireland), Roelf Meyer, Mohammed Bhabha, Ivor Jenkins (South Africa), Ljuljjetta Goranci Brkić and Ismeta Dervoz (Bosnia-Herzegovina) who participated in the event.

Roelf Meyer, who acted as the chief government negotiator in South Africa in the 1990s, opened the discussion. He recalled that the negotiations took place with an understanding that “what’s important is what we want from the future and not what we want to protect from the past”.

He also presented some thoughts grounded in the South African experience, but which could possibly have relevance to Cyprus, related with the necessity to develop a new mind set to ensure the obstacles of the past are overcome, the importance of developing a negotiating process that is transparent, open, and based on a solid communication strategy, which ensures the support of the wider public, and building confidence across the divide and mobilising public opinion towards the need for change.

The workshop in Malta was part of the “Participatory Peacemaking Initiative supported by UNDP-ACT and the peace-building organisation ENGI.

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